Saturday, September 22, 2012

Falling into Fall

I can tell by the light. 

I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but there is luminous quality to the light of autumn as it slants across the deck that tells me summer is over and fall has begun.  

It often happens, as would be logical, around the fall equinox, when day and night are nearly equal. Although today is the actual date of the equinox, the change happened about last Wednesday. I looked out my kitchen window and thought, "Summer is over." And it was.

The suddenness with which the fall shift happens always takes me by surprise.  I wake up one day it's summer. I wake up the next and it's not.  The temperature may still be warm, the grey rains of winter haven't set it, but there it is...a slant of light that heralds the change of season.

Fall used to be my favorite time of year.  The crispness of the air, the rich colors, pumpkins and spice, not to mention scarves and boots. Now, not so much. I feel a certain melancholy set in, as I wonder if I can wear my sandals a few more days before I need to shift to sox and closed toed shoes.

Perhaps it is because with each year I grow more acutely aware of the passage of time and how (relatively) little lies ahead compared with that which lies behind.  At the back of my mind is the possibility that this could be my last fall, even though, if I were to live anywhere close to my mother's age, I still have decades ahead of me. (Although, of course none of us know how much time we have, even when we are 20 or 30.)

More likely it is because I feel like I haven't really accomplished the things I thought I would when I was 20 and peering into the future.  (Fame and fortune seem to have eluded me!) I catch myself looking back with regrets that knot my stomach. I hear myself saying, "If only...." And when I'm in that frame of mind, I feel the tendrils of envy snake out and wrap themselves around my heart.

I envy those with enough money never to have to worry for the rest of their lives. I envy those with best-selling books and highly read blogs and six figure advances. I envy those with shining happy lives, seemingly unmarred by the grim armies of grief, depression, sorrow and regret. I envy those who get to do and have and be all the things I want to do and have and be.

And with each of these thoughts, the tendrils squeeze more tightly.

When I get into this autumnal state of mind (which is not to be confused with a New York state of mind), it's difficult to extract myself, to sever the tendrils.  In fact, I know of only one way to do it...confession.

Being Catholic, I can (and do) avail myself of the formal rite of Confession, but I also know that I must confess with a small "c."  I must admit to myself that envy and regret are coiled around my heart. I have to stop looking back, stop berating myself for all the wrong choices, misguided steps, and lapses in judgment.  I have to banish the "should have's" because, even if I "should have" the past is the past.

I have to stop steering the barque of my life by the wake and return to the helm.  Because winter is coming and I can't afford to waste a day of the fall.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Gratitude 100 things

Today marks my 200th blog post and so I've decided to list 100 things that I'm grateful for, since it is also Sunday and Sunday is Gratitude Day. These are in no particular order, certainly not ranked according to some "grateful" scale.  They just are as I have thought of them. (I'd have listed 200 since there probably are 200 things I could be grateful for, but 100 was all I could come up with right now!)

  1. Sunshine
  2. A home
  3. Nefer and Basti, most of the time
  4. Healing in a relationship
  5. Cell phone with unlimited callling
  6. My son
  7. His lovely girlfriend
  8. Healing from grief
  9. Chocolate
  10. Daffodils
  11. Squirrels that amuse me and torment the cats
  12. Coffee with cream
  13. The ability to write and edit
  14. Friends, both real and virtual
  15. Having seen places in the world on my bucket list
  16. Indoor plumbing
  17. Clean water
  18. Bacon
  19. Modern medicine
  20. Naturopathic medicine
  21. Hydrangeas
  22. Adoration chapel
  23. My kindle
  24. "Real" books
  25. An apple tree in the yard
  26. An African violet that blooms despite neglect
  27. A counselor who has helped during the griefwalking
  28. Movies, especially those at the $4 theater
  29. Old English lavender soap
  30. 20% off coupons for Bed, Bath and Beyond
  31. Answered prayer
  32. A comfortable mattress
  33. Stars
  34. Warm baths
  35. Sweet tea
  36. The occasional McDonald's hamburger
  37. Ice cream
  38. Cobalt blue
  39. Lime green
  40.  Butterflies
  41. Daisies
  42.  Sandy beaches
  43. Rockey beaches
  44. Lifetime friends
  45. Hope 
  46. Classic books
  47. Overhead fan
  48. Pellet stove in winter
  49. Watermelon
  50. Ocean waves
  51. The Psalms
  52. Internet access
  53. Ice cubes
  54. Blue skies
  55. Snow
  56. Fluffy white clouds
  57. Cherry blossoms
  58. Bright red nail polish
  59. Sharp kitchen knives
  60. My mother's peaceful death
  61. Water fountains
  62. Sleep
  63. Clean sheets
  64. Digital photos that can be shared instantly
  65. Old-fashioned photos that remember the past
  66. Good memories
  67. Learning to be grateful even in the hard times
  68. Naps
  69. Candles, especially scented candles
  70. A fireplace
  71. Modern appliances like a microwave
  72. A car
  73. Grass (I like grass)
  74. Bird songs outside my window in summer
  75. Full moon
  76. Change of seasons
  77. Contact lens
  78. The right to vote
  79. Swimming pools
  80. Lace
  81. All the pets I've had and loved over the years
  82. Cheese
  83. The kindness of strangers
  84. God's protection when I haven't even known it
  85. The ability to love
  86. Peace after fear
  87. Natural beauty
  88. Good conversation
  89. Surprises in the mail
  90. New beginnings
  91. Lavender in all its forms
  92. Real fountain pen
  93. Black ink
  94. WiFi
  95. Scarves
  96. Leather boots
  97. Beet salad
  98. Kisses
  99. Being forgiven
  100. Life itself